The Vauxhall Insignia's greatest step forward over its Vectra predecessor was in its platform and suspension. While the combination of MacPherson struts up front and a four-link arrangement at the rear follows the same basic layout as the Vectra, each suspension component was new.
VXR models have a HiPerStrut front suspension arrangement which seeks to reduce torque steer and maintain negative camber during cornering for improved grip.
Further suspension innovation comes in the form of Flexride, a continuously variable damper system that adjusts in relation to road conditions and driving style.
The Insignia’s suspension has been re-specified as part of the latest facelift, and its handling re-tuned, for greater rolling comfort. Some 60 percent of the chassis componentry is new; springs, dampers, bushings and more. And it’s made a perceptible difference, without turning the Vauxhall into a particularly outstanding bargain limousine.
That you can feel the dynamic benefit most on the motorway is probably exactly as Vauxhall would want it. At high cruising speeds, the car’s evidently lower spring rates give it a gentle low-frequency primary ride – and that’s without the optional ‘Flexride’ dampers, which could be expected to deliver even more waft in ‘Tour’ mode.
More disappointing are the cabin’s isolation levels; there’s a fair bit of wind and road noise permitted in compared with some cars in the class, while the ‘bump-thump’ low-speed secondary ride is a little bit noisy and fidgety, too.
Otherwise, the car definitely steers much better than it ever did, with new-found heft, feel and consistency-of-pace in the steering rack, and little-or-no deterioration in grip or body control as a result of the chassis retune. It is a very fine motorway tool too, with excellent high-speed stability, although it lacks the ability to cosset like a VW Passat or a Peugeot 508.
Away from fast-moving traffic and onto more twisty asphalt, the comparisons have a similar theme: the Insignia feels less on its toes than some, slower in its direction changes. It cannot match a Ford Mondeo, nor indeed a Peugeot 508 or a Mazda 6, but levels with other rivals in this respect.